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From Russia With Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: From Russia With Love

Starring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi
Director: Terence Young
Rated: PG
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: May 1964
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense, Classic

*Also starring: Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendariz Sr., Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

SPECTRE, up to its old tricks again in the second installment of the Bond series, has its sights set on getting a Russian decoder called a Lektor. Their plan will require the demise of Mr. Bond, which is just fine by their number 1. (We never see number 1's face, only a hand stroking a snow-white cat that perpetually sits in his lap. The credits list him as Ernst Blofeld, but put a "?" where the actor's name should go.)

In 1963's FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, SPECTRE lures Bond to Turkey under the ruse that a beautiful young Russian woman named Tatiana Romanova, played fetchingly by Daniela Bianchi, has possession of a Lektor and is willing to turn it over to the West with one proviso. The Western agent accepting it must be James Bond, played this time by an even more confident Sean Connery than in DR. NO. SPECTRE figures Bond will smell a trap but that he will not be able to resist coming, what with the chance of bedding a beautiful lass and getting a decoder as a bonus prize.

Tatiana, being a loyal Russian is similarly duped by former KGB agent Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) into thinking the operation is a Russian one to trap Bond. Actually Rosa is number 3 in the SPECTRE hierarchy.

This is the first Bond film in which he gets his now normal assortment of gadgets before his mission. This time it's a relatively simple briefcase with a tear gas canister, extra ammo, a rifle with an infrared sight, a bunch of gold coins and a hidden knife. The tear gas canister, for example, explodes in the face of someone attempting to break into the briefcase. Although he does not get fancy cars this time, he does get to have a big adventure on the famous Orient Express.

Featured attractions of the Bond films are the exotic locales -- Istanbul and Venice are prominently featured this time, especially the spires of their skylines which seem to reach for the heavens. Along with the images comes more great Bond music by composer John Barry.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE contains easily one of the hokiest scenes of any Bond film. Two gypsy girls -- they'd probably be referred to as young women today -- engage in an incredibly fake wrestling match to see who will win the honor of marrying the chief's son. Fortuitously, Robert Shaw, playing SPECTRE's chief hunk Red Grant, and his fellow goons show up to shoot up the place in the hope of taking out Bond. Surprise, Bond lives, but at least the wrestling farce is broken up.

Unlike the first movie, DR. NO, which rarely flagged, this one has too many slow parts that fail to keep the viewers' attention. But any Bond film starring Connery remains a delight to watch.

In my favorite small scene, we learn of one of the few times that Bond missed a clue. "'Red wine with fish' that should have told me something," Bond laments. Clearly a character who orders red wine with his fish should have been suspected right away.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE runs 1:50. It is rated PG for violence and sexual innuendo and would be fine for kids around nine and up.

My son Jeffrey, almost 9, thought FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE was a really good movie but liked DR. NO, the only other Bond film he has seen, much better. And again, his only complaint was that it had too much kissing.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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